Obey the laws.
Throw in use of some common sense.
That’s how West Virginia can escape its troubling place atop a national statistic.
West Virginia has the highest rate of ATV rider deaths on public roads, according to a study released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It looked at rider deaths on public roads from 2007 to 2011.
During that time, 1,701 riders died in crashes on public roads throughout the nation. West Virginia ranked No. 1 on the list with a death rate of 105 per 10 million. In total deaths, West Virginia was third at 96. Kentucky had the most at 122, and Pennsylvania ranked second at 97.
There were 18 ATV-related accidents reported to the Office of Emergency Services in Marion County during 2013, according to a dispatcher at Marion County Central Communications.
Other important findings from the IIHS:
• Of the individuals involved in fatal ATV crashes in recent years, 87 percent were not wearing helmets, and almost half were drunk.
• Only eight states require ATV operators on public roads to wear helmets.
• Among killed ATV drivers, 43 percent had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or greater, compared with a third of passenger vehicle and motorcycle drivers.
• Two thirds of ATV crashes occur on public or private roads, even though they are meant for off-road use. The IIHS says though ATVs can reach highway speeds, their low-pressure tires are not designed for paved surfaces, and many models are prone to rolling over.
Sgt. Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police suggests that one of the major factors playing into the high death rate in the state is the terrain and recreational opportunities West Virginia has to offer.
“People take advantage of all the outdoor activity including hiking, skiing and fishing, and with more ATVs being purchased, it results in more deaths,” he said. “Other factors that result in fatal ATV accidents are alcohol, improper or no use of safety equipment, speed and not being familiar with the terrain.”
It’s important that ATVs are used for the purpose they’re designed.
In West Virginia, it depends on the area whether riders can travel on unlined roads or back roads, Baylous said. Some cities have ordinances to allow them to be used in the city, he said.
However, Baylous said people are not permitted to ride along a major highway or interstate.
Baylous said West Virginia does not have a law that requires ATV riders age 18 or older to wear a helmet. However, West Virginia law code 17F states that anyone under the age of 18 must take an ATV safety course and have a valid certificate. These courses are offered at the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Following the law, of course, is important. So is taking common-sense precautions such as knowing your skills and abilities, being aware of the area when riding, following the manufacturer’s recommendations, avoiding riding after dark, wearing a helmet and reducing speeds. ATVs, when sold, are equipped with a safety video.
“Whether talking about DUI or talking about highway safety, we always say just use common sense,” Baylous said. “That seems to be the biggest thing. If people would use that, there are a lot of crashes that could be avoided.
“You can’t stop every one of them, but that would make a big difference.”
A difference that would save lives in West Virginia.
Obey the laws.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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